la Antigua’s hidden Market´s

Every time someone asks me “Where can I buy traditional Guatemalan…?” or “Which is the best place to buy…?“. I  usually think of Antigua’s three biggest markets: The Artisans Market, Antigua’s Municipal Market and Nim Po’t. You know, the usual places tourists flock to buy authentic Guatemalan fabrics, textiles, paintings and handicrafts.

But Antigua has so much more to offer. The smaller markets that seem to be hidden away and a lot of tourists don’t get to see- offer just as much if not more.

One example is the market at El Carmen ruins, or Mercado el Carmen. On the weekends, it is a bustling hive of activity with wares literally spilling out onto the streets, for all to see and busloads of tourists visit. But during the week, it seems to withdraw and hide so people walk right by and are unaware of the wonder to be found inside.

This market has a huge range of traditional crafts, which means you can find anything you are looking for. Yet it’s only ranked  #54 on Trip Advisors “Things to do in Antigua”. When in fact, recent reviews have shown, tourists find things -in this hidden market- that they haven’t found at the larger markets.

Another example is a little known market where you can shop like a local, because this is where the street vendors buy their goods and then sell to the tourists as they walk the streets of Antigua. A market with no name, it can be found across the road from the main carpark, behind Antigua’s Municipal Market; on Calle de Los Recoletos. Tucked away and only open once a week, on Mondays, this is an excellent place to find all your beadwork and bags at an exceptional price.

Also, there are a multitude of smaller markets bursting with colourful bags, jewellery, traditional goods and clothing; which can be found inside tourist spots like ChocoMuseo (MAP A6/C7) that are worth a look as well.

That is the beauty of Antigua, every time you walk through a doorway, there is a wonderland waiting on the other side full of treasures. So don’t walk past, stop for a moment and walk through that door and discover what awaits you. Then next time a tourist asks: “Where’s the best place to buy…?”, you may surprise yourself by giving them an entirely new answer.

Written and photo by: Belinda Woodhouse

Translated by: Julissa Carrillo

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